When she works
precisely how much she’ll charge
for tilting back her head just so and
kissing the smoke. How much
depends upon how heavy the half-empty glass
in her hand, how many times she must
suck the cigar, and how delicately she holds
it between two fingers and her thumb.
She knows by how long he stares
exactly what she’s worth, and she deducts
how much it cost to slither into the strapless,
yellow gown she bought on sale, to highlight
her hair as if it were sun-kissed, to paint
her lips the perfect shade of pink to compliment
her pale skin. Flawlessness is expensive.
But the big bucks rely on her stillness,
on how many minutes she can hold the pose.
It’s harder than you might think, which is why
she does the math, counts the minutes and the number
of times he blinks his camera-shudder eyes.
Wait for it, she thinks. Wait for it.
Perfect, baby. Perfect.
And there it is: the cash register’s ring.
Later, she’ll unwind—wash her hair,
do some laundry, sit in front of the TV,
balance her budget, and let curve
the barest hint of a smile.
©Ami Mattison, 2011
In response to One Stop Poetry’s Picture Prompt Challenge.
Photo courtesy of Mike Roemer.